Diplomatic Access: Bangladesh
In this interview, His Excellency Mohammad Ziauddin, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the United States, discusses regional connectivity, maritime disputes, and regional security threats.
The Diplomat: From Bangladesh’s perspective, what are the greatest threats facing the South Asian Region? What can we do to address these issues?
Amb. Ziauddin: The South Asian region, with a combined population of over one and a half billion people, is faced with a number of threats. Of these, poverty, climate change, and terrorism are the prominent ones. These threats cannot be overcome alone but with the combined effort of the countries in the region and with the support of the development partners. All would need to work together for common prosperity with a thrust on education and economic cooperation. Efforts in these two areas would ensure both domestic and regional economic development.
A factor for quickening development is good connectivity of roads, rail, water, and air in the region. Good connectivity could bolster vibrant trade and commerce among the countries. These in turn could help in creating an enlightened and prosperous populace thus ridding the region of extremism and terrorism, tackling climate change, and facing all other challenges threatening the region.
In 2014, a UN Court ruled in favor of Bangladesh in a maritime territorial dispute with India. What was Bangladesh’s experience working with an international arbitration process on this issue and can this be an example for other bilateral territorial disputes in Asia?
The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s foreign policy dictum, “Friendship towards all, malice towards none,” remains even today the foundation of our foreign policy. Thus, with our immediate neighbors, India and Myanmar, Bangladesh maintains good relations, With India, our relationship is special as it provided shelter to over ten million refugees when genocide was unleashed by the Pakistani occupation forces from March 25, 1971, and subsequently, helped us in fighting for Bangladesh’s independence
Therefore, due to our excellent relations with both Myanmar and India, the decisions taken by the international arbitration process on the demarcation of the maritime territory between Bangladesh and those two friendly countries, were accepted spontaneously by all in the spirit of friendship and understanding. Bangladesh was happy with the fair, just, and conclusive decision of the international arbitration process. It reflected and reaffirmed the integrity and correctness of the arbitration process. As for Bangladesh, it remains convinced that such maritime differences between countries can all be solved in a similar manner in a friendly environment created by friendly relations.
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